If you have oily hair, you’re probably washing it every day. But this can be harsh on your strands, stripping them of their natural oils, and causing your scalp to go into oil production overload. The result of this common cyclical beauty woe is often a combination of greasy roots and dry ends. But you can train your hair to be less oily with a technique called hair training. This involves slowly reducing the frequency of hair washes to get your scalp used to not being rinsed often, naturally minimizing oil production. Get rid of greasy strands for good and learn how to train your hair ahead!
The natural oils in your hair serve a purpose and aren’t in themselves bad for you. We all produce sebum on our skin through our sebaceous glands. Sebum is an oily, waxy substance produced by your body’s sebaceous glands. It coats, moisturizes, and protects your skin- this includes your scalp. But too much sebum can cause an oily buildup leaving you hair looking limp and greasy. Especially if you have fine hair that doesn't require the kind of moisture thick or curly hair does. There are a few reasons why someone might have a perpetually oily scalp. Some common causes of an overproduction of oil in the scalp are:
Hair training is the process of pulling back on shampoo and bringing your scalp back into balance. It involves slowly reducing the frequency of hair washes to reduce oil buildup while avoiding damage or stripping your hair’s natural oils. The goal of training your hair is to space out your washes correctly to avoid your scalp going into overdrive. So the less often you wash your hair, the less your scalp will feel the need to produce oil.
There are two ways to go about training your hair: you can either go all-out, or you can ease your way in. These hair hacks and expert tips will help you find your way on your hair training journey. Get ready to say goodbye to greasy strands for good!
Wondering how often should you wash your hair if it’s oily? How long you can go between washes depends on your hair type and texture (fine, thick, natural hair or curly) but try to prolong the time between shampooing as long as you can (anywhere from every other day to once a week). Washing your hair every day contributes to an oily buildup. The more you clean your hair, the more oil your scalp produces to compensate. If you normally wash everyday, it’ll take time to get used to washing it less. So start by going an extra day or two in between your normal washes. Rinse your hair with water in between shampoos and try to build up to once a week. When your hair adjusts you’ll notice a dramatic difference.
photo by @goldandglowco
Dry shampoo is a must have product to have on hand while hair training. A little dry shampoo on your roots goes a long way towards stretching out your time in between washes. On off days, part your hair in small sections from ear to ear and spray the product into the roots, making sure your entire head is covered. If your roots get really oily, apply dry shampoo immediately after you wash and dry your hair. It will start working immediately to combat oil.
Sulfates are sudsy detergents that can over-cleanse.The first few times you use a shampoo with sulfates, your hair might feel squeaky-clean, but over time your scalp will begin to overproduce oil to make up for the dryness. A sulfate-free shampoo cleanses your strands without stripping your scalp of its natural oils necessary for strong, healthy hair.
Brushing your hair frequently helps to disperse its natural oils throughout the head and the length of the hair fibers. This makes for an ideal natural lightweight leave-in conditioner. Use a soft, natural-bristle hairbrush for this rather than a comb, and be careful not to over-brush chemically-treated hair.
Your roots might start looking a bit dirty around day three, and that’s where second-day hairstyles come into play. Second day styles are hairstyles that not only work better on, but look better on unwashed strands. Our favorite second-day hairstyles are purposefully messy and lived in, meaning a little grease and texture from your dry shampoo are all you need for styling them.
Be careful of over dry-shampooing, because that can do more harm than good for certain hair types. If your hair is constantly oily, swap out your dry shampoo with a texturizing spray. They’re a great substitute for reviving 2nd and 3rd day hair without adding much oil.
Around day 4 it’s time for an apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse. Raw, organic apple cider vinegar helps to restore the pH balance of your hair and rid the scalp of buildup. Apple cider vinegar is mild enough that it won’t strip your hair of essential nutrients, and it's also gentle enough to use on color-treated hair. Try this apple cider vinegar rinse:
photo by @nicolebradleyy
If you feel like you're experiencing too much oil buildup while training your hair, use a clarifying shampoo every to reset your scalp when necessary. A shampoo for oily hair deep cleans your scalp, roots, and strands when your hair starts feeling weighed down.
Overusing styling products overworks your scalp, increasing oil production. So if you have oily hair, try to limit your product use to one at a time. And it’s important to note that the only products you should ever put on your roots when your hair is damp are mousse, root lift spray or a heat shield for hair before blow-drying.
You’re likely familiar with the skincare benefits of exfoliation — those same benefits apply to your scalp. Exfoliating with scalp scrub removes product and oil buildup, while stimulating your circulation for healthy skin cell turnover. Massaging gently with a scrub feels amazing on a greasy, irritated scalp and leaves your locks looking healthy and clean.
Blow drying can also cause your hair to produce excess oil, so skip the blowout and let your hair air-dry instead. After you wash your hair, use a leave-in-conditioner on your ends to cut down on the drying time. And avoid touching your hair too much before it's dry. This can create frizz, especially on wavy or curly hair. Apply your hair styling products to your damp hair after washing and keep your hands off your hair until it’s dry.
The B vitamins, particularly vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), can help combat oily hair by balancing sebum production. You can take vitamin B in the form of a supplement like a pill or through foods like salmon, eggs, beef and leafy greens. It’s important to note that you should always consult your doctor before adding a supplement to your diet.
This is likely another tip you’ve heard before for dealing with oily hair. But it’s easy to fall into the trap of applying conditioner higher and higher to de-tangle your knots. Be mindful that the higher you apply it, the faster your hair will become greasy. Do your best to go no higher than the start of your mid-shafts.
When your scalp is really oily, your hair gets weighed down and styling can be a nightmare. Don’t get caught up in the never-ending cycling of over washing and sending your scalp into oil production overdrive. Stock up on the dry shampoo and texturizing spray and after a few weeks of less washing and training your hair it’ll start to look and feel less oily. If you’re still experiencing an oily scalp after hair training, see a dermatologist as it can be a symptom of a skin disorder. Finding the right solution means your locks will feel healthier, and you’ll notice more body and shine throughout your strands.
by Jaclyn LaBadia, featured contributor
cover photo by @goldandglowco